Threescore

Nicholas Quirke was excited to be celebrating his milestone in China and breakfasting in the Wuhan hotel on longevity noodles, a mighty spicy broth, dressed in his Tang Dynasty jacket mad for a great beginning to the day. It was an unexpected start to the new decade and not one, as his sister had said, he would have conceived of a decade earlier. He had bought the card Dee had sent him, as well as the hat Kate had bought for him, and the Air Pod pro’s Peng had bestowed and held an opening ceremony. He had already received messages from friends in Australia who had reached the 22nd already but would have to wait for the family and friends greetings from the UK. The rain was heavier, Xiao Yua, (small rain) and he had to use an umbrella as they wandered round Guiyuan Buddhist Temple, built in 1658 during the short reign of Emperor Shunzhi, who acceded to the throne of the Qing empire at the age of 5 and had died of smallpox by 22. He was given 3 sticks of incense and performed a short ritual in honour of his special day. It was an interesting temple and fascinating to see the monks living quarters and their robes hanging out to wash. Lunch was at the Mays Vegan restaurant they had been to the previous day but first they headed back to the hotel for a tea and some cake and to collect their their luggage. They had a different selection of dishes even more delicious than before. Nicholas had started to receive message including a video card from his Mother and Bruce and one from Eileen and started responding to well wishers. There was sadly no desert and instead they went to a tea house in the mall and ate cake and drank Pu’er Tea. The Wuhan trip had come to end and they made their way via a long subway ride to the airport for the 7.30 flight back to Beijing. The journey was smooth and on getting back to the apartment he collected cards from his sister and niece and opened them, Peng lit some candles on the mung bean cakes and he made a birthday wish. The last action of the day was a lovely FaceTime chat with Harvey and Grace before taking to his bed feeling satisfied that his threescore years had bought him to a very happy place.

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